Decarbonising Transport with Neighbourhood Plans in Northern England

Project Details


Since its introduction, neighbourhood planning has been proved to be very popular: with close to 2882 neighbourhood areas designated and more than 1292 plans passed local referenda to become part of statutory development plans for their local area. A recent study commissioned by MHCLG found that the climate emergency featured strongly in virtually all plans they scanned, demonstrating communities’ willingness to tackle the climate change from the bottom up. However, researchers also pointed out that many of these plans do not have a measurable and tangible action plan to deliver a lower carbon future. Much less a low carbon transport future.

This is a missed opportunity. Although most transport powers rest with the County Council or Unitary Authorities as the statutory local transport authorities, neighbourhood planning can help reduce the need for car journeys and enable people to make sustainable transport choices by influencing the location, scale, density, design, and mix of land uses in the neighbourhood level. The thrust of neighbourhood planning as a tool to decarbonise local transport is that innovation, solutions, and policies are all come from the community, which are then tested by all the residents through a local referendum. Therefore, it is crucial to identify practical ways of integrating sustainable transport policies into neighbourhood planning, in order to empower communities and to lead change to just transition to lower carbon futures from the bottom up.

This research uses Carnforth, a small market town in Lancashire, as a pilot to explore the ways in which sustainable transport can be integrated into the development of a neighbourhood plan. It uses co-production and theory of change as methods, to help create the conditions in which communities can identify practical ways of integrating sustainable transport policies into their built environment and lifestyles, be empowered and lead change to just transition to lower carbon futures from the bottom up.

Key findings

The overarching consensus from this research is that the development of planning policies in its neighbourhood plan can contribute to the decarbonisation of local transport. With rapidly evolving technologies and new ideas, neighbourhood areas can act as test beds where real change could be made. To help communities, the authors of this report created a toolkit to decarbonise local transport via neighbourhood plans, providing detailed strategies to adopt sustainable transport policies in neighbourhood plans and good examples.
Short titleR:HDP DecarboN8 Decarbonising
Effective start/end date1/08/2031/01/21

Collaborative partners

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • decarbonisation
  • transport
  • neighbourhood planning
  • spatial planning
  • community-led


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